Accuracy in Media

An AP story carried on the CBS news website noted that Dick Clark, “a former senator from Iowa who established the Aspen Institute program for Congress,” had testified against “a total ban on privately funded travel” for members of Congress. The story failed to note that the Aspen Institute is the number one sponsor of privately funded travel for members of Congress, having spent $3.4 million on Congress from 2000-2005. Aspen is one vehicle whereby left-wing billionaires like George Soros work to influence politicians on Capitol Hill by bringing them to luxurious places, hotels and resorts, and listening to mostly liberal and left-wing speakers.

Aspen is headed by Walter Isaacson, the former Chairman and CEO of CNN and the Managing Editor of Time Magazine. Aspen participates in something called the Ethical Globalization Initiative (EGI), headed by former U.N. official Mary Robinson, who calls the International Criminal Court, which could prosecute and imprison U.S. citizens, a “great legal enterprise.” Isaacson serves on the EGI board, along with global tax supporter Jeffrey Sachs, an adviser to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The AP story did note that Aspen “arranges seminars both inside the country and around the world where members of Congress are required to attend conferences that last six hours a day over four days. It does not pay for recreational activities.” But you don’t have to pay for the weather. Some of the locations for Aspen congressional seminars include Naples, Florida; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and the Grand Cayman Island in the British West Indies.

Clark testified that his “Congressional program,” designed to expose members of congress to academic “expertise” on “complex” issues, is funded by “established independent foundations such as Ford, MacArthur, Carnegie, and Kellog.” He neglected to mention the Open Society Institute of George Soros, listed in Aspen’s 2004 annual report as a major foundation supporter.

But that’s not the only Soros connection. Others include:

  • Aspen’s director of communications is Jim Spiegelman, a former “special assistant” to Soros.

  • Soros has been a featured speaker at the Aspen Summer Benefit dinner at the Hotel Jerome in Aspen, Colorado. The Hotel Jerome is Aspen’s “crown jewel.” Rooms go for anywhere from $636 -$1390 a night.

  • Arjun Gupta, a member of the Aspen board of overseers, serves as a Vice President at The Chatterjee Group, an investment advisor to Soros and his Soros Fund Management group.

  • In 2004, Aspen hosted “America’s Role in the Fight Against Global Poverty,” a seminar featuring Al Gore and George Soros.

Do you think Senator John McCain will try to inhibit Aspen influence operations as part of his lobbying reform initiative? Not likely. McCain was a speaker at an Aspen event, where he and Senator Joe Lieberman said “they would have voted to approve China’s attempted purchase of Unocal, a midsized American oil company, and if the question came up, they would back the sale of General Motors to a Chinese company.” 

This seems like a big story, especially in light of what happened with the UAE/Ports deal.

But it is doubtful that we’ll see any stories on this from CNN, which Isaacson used to run. CNN host Paula Zahn hosted Aspen’s 2002 Summer Benefit dinner at the Hotel Jerome.

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